In a fraction of a second

We assess race, gender, and age in a fraction of a second. We aren’t as good at guessing sexual orientation, but, to the extent we see it, we see it right away: when students are shown a photo of a man and asked if he is gay, they are about as accurate within one hundred milliseconds as they are after longer periods.16 For these reactions, we don’t need anything close to two seconds. But for other questions, two seconds isn’t nearly long enough. If we are asked to tell whether someone is friendly or dangerous, we do better with more time. To accurately assess whether someone is sociable, we need at least a minute, preferably five.17 The same is true if we are judging complex aspects of personality, such as neuroticism or open-mindedness.18 For these decisions, our impressions during the first two seconds fail us. We need more time.

Frank Partnoy – Wait: The Art and Science of Delay

Your memory is wrong

Cognitive psychologists have provided mountains of evidence over the last twenty years that memory is unreliable. And to make matters worse, we show staggering overconfidence in many recollections that are false. It’s not just that we remember things wrongly (which would be bad enough), but we don’t even know we’re remembering them wrongly, doggedly insisting that the inaccuracies are in fact true.

Daniel J. Levitin – The Organized mind

If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save

Her grandma tells him a very deep anecdote from the end of World War II, trying to escape a nazi camp:

A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.” “He saved your life.” “I didn’t eat it.” “You didn’t eat it?” “It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.” “Why?” “What do you mean why?” “What, because it wasn’t kosher?” “Of course.” “But not even to save your life?” “If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”

Jonathan Safran Foer – Eating animals